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Dreams Of Burma

Dreams Of Burma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Report By : SIMON MULI

Nestled between India, China and Thailand lies an exotic land studded with gilded pagodas, temples, red robed monks and more. Myanmar, or Burma is probably one of the most unique countries I have ever set footsteps in, oozing with charisma and charm. A culture untouched, the innocence of her people not yet corrupted with materialism or overrun by tourism; still steeped in deep-rooted tradition like that of thanaka (smearing sandalwood paste on the face) and wearing longyi (a skirt like robe). Now discovered, it won’t be long before it changes. If ever there was a time to experience the REAL Burma, it would be now. Visit. You won’t regret it, I promise you. But for today, enjoy glimpses of my adventures in Myanmar.

• Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Shwedagon:  the most revered Pagoda in Burmese culture. A gilded stupa rising up from a terrace surrounded by smaller shrines, bathed by the golden rays of the setting sun is a sight that cast a magic spell over me. Despite the flurry of activity around, calm still emanates from its peripheries. Monks meditating, locals bustling around in prayer, tourists hanging around soaking it all in add to the vibe. We were lucky enough to be here on a full moon night when 9000 candles were placed around the entire stupa, and we got to light some, illuminating the stupa with the magical glow of flickering candlelight. Whispered prayers being sent to the heavens above, faith in their being answered. To this day, candles remind me of these moments in Shwedagon.

• Balloons over Bagan

When Rudyard Kipling wrote, “This is Burma, and it will be quite unlike any land you know about,” I think he had the ancient city of Bagan in mind.

Thousands of temples dotted across lush, green plains as far as the eye can see, their ochre spires rising up to meet the sky, some big, some small but each majestic in their own right. To experience this from way up above in a Hot Air Balloon soaring gently above the spires, wafting along carried by a lazy breeze is surreal. The warm rays of a rising orange sun breaking through the swirling dawn mist that shrouds the temples, bathing them in warm golden light as the earth below slowly comes to life: the promise of a new day creates a breathtakingly beautiful postcard picture.

• Lake Inle

Sat in a small boat on the still blue waters amidst islands of green reeds rising up, watching Intha Fishermen is fascinating. Indigenous to Lake Inle, they cast their large fishing nets whilst standing with one foot on the edge of the boat and using the other to steer the paddle: a delicate balancing act of sorts!

• Tea Leaf Salad

You know those left over chai leaves that we throw away once we have brewed our concoctions? Well, the Burmese incorporate these into a most delicious salad with fresh greens and peanuts! The tannins in the leaves mix well with the other ingredients creating a tasty symphony in your mouth that leaves you hankering for more! Who would have thought?

• Road to Mandalay

The countryside around Mandalay is studded with wonders: the world’s largest free standing bell in Mingun, the pink robed nuns of Sagaing, and the piece de resistance: the stunning teak U-Bein bridge of Amarapura. Made entirely of teak, U-Bein is used by the locals to traverse across Taungthaman Lake and is most magical at sun set. For some: a route home after a weary day. For others: a chance to catch up with the days happenings. Monks and locals alike hang out on the bridge mingling whilst savouring fried delights and chicken satays from the many vendors, enjoying sundown, a perfect melting pot of daily life in a postcard setting.

This is Burma…and indeed, it is unlike any land you will ever know.

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